The Problem (and Solution) of Applicants Without Email Addresses

Can you offer any experience from PG County as far as how you dealt with requiring Custodian applicants etc. – folks where there is a perception they might not have an email address, how did you overcome this perception did you help facilitate them signing up for free GMAIL accounts, did you offer them to come to the HR area and someone would assist them or was it not even a thought considered?

So here is the strategy (and this comes up a lot with other iRecruitment installations, too):

ACME has an HR customer service center setup for this purpose, which provides support for walk-in applicants, as well as email and phone support.  First, they have finally (I believe) eliminated all paper applications. Everyone is required to create an application for a job via iRecruitment.  Second, when someone does not have an email address, the HR customer service people will assist users with setting up a free email account. I know they support non-English languages whenever possible, as there are probably 3 languages other than English commonly spoken in the district, though I’m not sure to what extent for non-constituents.

Which brings me to another point: Oracle doesn’t care what email address I use, so I can use a fake address, as long as no one else has used the same fake email address.  Like: [email protected]  Of course, this is strong discouraged, but there is no way to validate an email address.  This really puts the responsibility on the job seeker, where it really should lay.

I can only speak from my own experience and practice in other organizations, and not specifically to ACME’s processes, but the email and computer literacy components act as a filter, especially when there are nearly always more applicants than jobs.  In an organization that uses SSHR extensively for benefits enrollment, talent management, payslips, tax forms, and of course recruitment, the ability to use a computing device becomes a requirement of employment.  For employees, let’s say bus drivers, they have access to kiosk PC’s at various locations and generally at their bus lots to do self-service actions. At ACME it has been a cultural change and has taken several years to adopt, which includes the unions, employees, support staff, and administration.

I hope this helps answer some of the concerns.

Goodbye Bluehost

Back in April, we decided to move website hosting for this site to Bluehost. We had outgrown our old hosting service and needed a more robust solution. On recommendation from some other Bluehost customers, we moved all of our commercial sites to Bluehost.

Over the past 11 months, we have had intermittent problems with Bluehost. My webmaster indicated that Bluehost would go offline more often that she was comfortable with, which apparently affects our rankings with the major search engines.  There were other times that our site would come to a grind halt, no doubt as a result of too much traffic from our ‘neighbors’ (we had shared hosting).

Not satisfied with the anecdotal downtime data I was receiving, I setup free monitoring on one of our Bluehost sites using Pingdom, so that I could measure Bluehost’s reliability. After all, what gets measured gets managed (or replaced). Pingdom checks every 5 minutes to see if my sites are up and sends me a text message when it is down and again when it comes up again. I set this up Monday, July 29th, 2013.

So 4 am on Friday, August 2nd, I started receiving text messages: site down, site up, site down.  Over the next 13 hours, it must have been hell at Bluehost, and our sites were down for at least 8 hours, and probably closer to 10 hours.  In the end, it appeared to be a network issue that cascaded throughout their data center and affected Bluehost, Host Gator and Just Host, all of which are owned by Endurance International Group (EIG).

Fortunately, we had already been researching options other than Bluehost.  We moved to another hosting company, upgrading to a virtual private server (VPS) along the way, and one not owned by (EIG).

What are the lessons learned?  There are several:

  • Keep your registrar different from your host. If your host goes down, like Bluehost did, and you need to change nameservers (where your host is), you can point traffic to your new host.  I was able to migrate the site within a few hours.
  • Backup often and store the backups somewhere other than your host. Some of our sites are backed up daily, others weekly. Worst case scenario is that we have to restore to an older backup, but it is sufficient if it keeps the sites up.
  • Monitor your hosting company with a third-party tool or service. I have created a spreadsheet for monitoring uptime, based on down/up alerts I receive from Pingdom.
  • Follow Twitter feeds when issues arise. This may seem obvious to some, but some of us are not heavy Twitter users, so this idea only came to us after the issue was nearly resolved.
  • Be ready for disaster.

I am guessing that a lot of people will be moving away from Bluehost, Host Gator and Just Host as a result of this outage. I’m sure the losses for their customers is in the millions of dollars.  The costs that come to my mind are:

  • Lost sales from e-commerce sites;
  • Lost advertising costs for those people who clicked ads on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other advertisers;
  • Lost productivity from those who manage and use the sites that are hosted there;
  • Opportunity costs.

This may appear on the surface to be a knee-jerk reaction, but it was really just the event that pushed us over the edge. We had three live sites (one of which is heavily visited), and one development site that were affected. I find it ironic that their hosting went down in the same week that I started monitoring.  So we migrated this site to a VPS and we hope that you enjoy the speed and reliability. I can tell you that we do.

11 Years and Going Strong

It’s hard to believe, but it has been a year since we celebrated Matrice Consulting’s 10 year anniversary and relaunched this website.  Although it has been difficult to keep up with the blog posts over the past two months due to professional commitments, I can tell you that we are still going strong, quietly going about our work to provide the best service and solutions to our clients.

Here are some of the highlights of our past year:

  • On pace for record year in 2013 for gross sales and net income;
  • Entered into new partnerships;
  • Contract renewals with existing clients;
  • Expansion of management consulting operations, in the area of new business development.

What’s coming up this next year?  This is where it gets interesting.  In February, we announced a ‘calm before the storm’ and that changes were coming.  Although on the surface you cannot see those changes, you can probably feel them if you’ve worked with us.  Without revealing too much, we have worked on some new internal projects that have added revenue streams, including providing new services which we will announce over the coming months.

Life Magazine Cover - Roaring Twenties

We’re partying like it’s 1923.

We, like many other companies in our niche, are preparing for the changes that have come about with Oracle Fusion HCM Applications, which is turning out to be more fun than expected.

The next twelve months will be exciting.  We will celebrate tonight, as is our custom, and then get right back to it in the morning.  I would like to thank our clients, partners, staff, and family for helping to make this possible.  We are already on track for our best year ever and we couldn’t and can’t do it without you.

All the best,
Mark Pescatrice

Founder and CEO, Matrice Consulting, LLC

Why Your Niche Matters More Than Ever

You will hear entrepreneurial leaders and other talking heads (Seth Godin, can you hear me?) telling us to find our niche. As I was watching a Twitter feed during lunch on the day of the manhunt for the (alleged) Boston Marathon bomber, it struck me how unimportant nearly all the voices (tweets) were, at least to me. They were all just a bunch of noise.

Why is finding your niche so important?  It is easy to look out into the world and easily become overwhelmed by the flood of information.  You have a product, a service, or an idea that you want to share with the world, but you will more than likely be drowned out, unless you start with your niche.  Take the case of the Twitter posts I mentioned above: nobody cares about your comments unless you have active followers.  Finding your niche is the best way to be heard through all the noise.

Don’t worry about being listed on the Amazon best seller’s list or getting a call for an interview by Wired, Inc., or Fast Company.  Focus on your niche first.  I have learned this lesson over the years. When I started this company, I had grand hopes and dreams for this company to become a large player in the ERP space, providing implementation services across the full spectrum of Oracle E-Business Suite modules. I never put much effort into that bigger plan for a variety of reasons, and frankly I am glad that I did not. Instead, I focused on being really good and getting better at just one area: Human Capital Management (a/k/a HRMS). Although I read this more than a decade ago and can’t remember who said it, this is the age of the specialist.

The reason the niche matters is because people who care about what you sell or say will be the ones listening.

The Headless Ghost Movie Poster

You won’t hear this guy complaining about his niche.

It is much easier get the attention of 200 people than 200,000,000 people. If the message is important or interesting enough, those 200 will make sure it spreads to a larger audience.

The important thing is to find your niche, decide if there is growth, and then get in and build.

The book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World is next on my reading list, which addresses platform creation.  The platform is one of the concepts Seth Godin proposes in his book Linchpin, another book that I consider recommended reading. I will offer my thoughts after I’ve read it.

~ + ~

As a general rule, I spend no time on Twitter. I will usually visit when I want to see how a big new event trends, especially from people on the ground.  Aside from that, I am only there when I post updates to this blog.

Are Your Passwords Safe?

An early password manager.

An early password manager.

Password security is one of the hottest security issues and one of the most difficult to manage, regardless if you are a Fortune 100 company or an independent consultant, such as myself. Password managers make it a lot easier to manage your side of password security, and if you are not using one, you should. I have used password managers for over ten years, including RoboForm (commercial license), KeePass (open source), ThinkPad Password Manager, and LastPass (commercial license). In my opinion, LastPass is far and above the best password manager/safe, as it is platform agnostic, runs in the cloud, has plugins for all major browsers, and runs on nearly every device. I can sit down at any Internet connected device in the world and access my password vault. Continue reading